Swami Desikan was initiated into Garuda mantram by his Acharya, Sri AppuLLar. Incidentally, the Tamil word PuL stands for a bird. Here the reference is tothe divine bird, Garuda, who is also known as Pakshi Raja (the king of Birds). Garuda Mantram includes therefore among its five syllables the two syllables constiuted by the word Pakshi. The Garuda Mantram was a Mantram of AppuLLar"s family. After instructing Sri Desikan on all relevant Sri Vaishnava granthas, Rahasyas Tarka and Vyaakarna, Sri AppuLLar initiated him into the recitation of Garuda Mantram.
After his Acharya.s passing away, Sri Desikan settled at Thiruvahindrapuram and worshipped Sri Devanayaka Perumal and Hemabjavalli Thaayar. While residing there, he ascended the hillock near the Lord.s temple known as Oushadhadri and sat under a Aswatta tree and recited Garuda Mantram for a considerable time in intense concentration. Garuda Bhagavan was pleased with the devotion of Sri Desikan and appeared before him and blessed Sri Desikan. Sri Garuda Bhagavan also gave an archa murthy of Yogaasika Hayagrivan to Sri Desikan to use in his daily Aaraadhanam. Sri Garuda also initiated Swami Desikan into the recitation of Sri Hayagreeva Mantram. The enormous achievements of Swami Desikan came out of the Anugraham of Sri Garuda Bhagavan, who is generally recognized in Sri Vaishnava Sampradhaya as Veda Swaroopi. Swami Desikan Composed Garuda Panchaasat to record his gratefulness to Sri Garuda Bhagavan and incorporated the Garuda Mantram in one of the 50 slokas of that Panchasat. He then recited Sri Hayagreeva mantra and had the good fortune of seeing Sri Hayagreeva and received His blessings as well. Swami composed the Hayagreeva Stotram and incorporated the Mantra of Sri Hayagreeva in this stotram. All the achievements of Swami Desikan as a Great Acharya arise from the blessings conferred by Both Garuda Bhagavan and His Lord Sri Hayagreeva at Thiruvahindrapuram. The archa murthy of the Yogaasika Hayagreeva presented by Garuda Bhagavan can be seen even today , next to the Vigraha of Swami Desikan sculpted by his own hands , when he was challenged by a sculptor, who wanted to defeat Swami in a contest.
Sri Garuda Dhandakam was composed on a later occasion, when a Snake charmer challenged Swami Desikan.s title as Sarvatantra Swatantrar and sent some poisonous snakes towards Swami to test his power in handling poisonous snakes.. Sri Desikan recited the Garuda Mantra and the snakes were carried away by Garuda Bhagawan. The snake charmer lost thus his snakes and his livelihood. He fell at the feet of Swami and asked for forgiveness. Swami forgave him and requested Sri Garuda Bhagawan to return the snakes and composed the Garuda Dhandakam to thank Sri Garuda for his intervention. This stotra was composed at Kanchipuram.
Thus, the Stotras
associated with Garuda Bhagavan and Sri Hayageeva, the Lord of Learning
occupies a special place among the 28 stotras of Swami Desikan. The
translation of Sri Garuda Dhandakam, which is a marvellous composition as
seen from its Dhandakam structure is as follows.
In this stotram, Swami Desikan covers the FOLLOWING topics to illustrate the glory, power and status of Garuda as one of the foremost Nitya Sooris serving Sriman Narayana in Sri Vaikuntam:
1. Vedas praising Garuda
2. Garuda"s service to Sriman Narayana as His Vehicle and Flag
3. His matrimonial status with his two wives(Rudrai and Sukeerthi)
4. His adornment of great serpents as his jewellery on his limbs
5. His heroic deed in bringing nectar from Indra Loka
6. His other heroic deeds in battles on behalf of his Lord
7. His splendour as the Amsa(aspect) of Para Vasudeva(i-e) his
8. His manifestion in five individual forms
9. His conferral of Vedhanta Vidya to his aspiring devotees(i-e) his
status as an Acharya.
10. The worship of him by learned scholars and saints
11. His power as the Garuda Mantra Moorthy
12. His power to bless one with the 4 Purusharthas (goals ) of Life
13. His incarnation as Garuda as a result of the prayers of the
14. His power to bless on e with the True knowledge or Brahma Vidya
It is generally believed that the recitation of this Dhandakam daily would protect one from the harms caused by poisonous animals such as snakes, scorpions et al.
Poetic Structure of this
In sanskrit poetry , each of the 4 Paadas of a sloka can have 26 letters. If the letters of each Paadas increase to 27,30,33,36 (other multiples of 3 beyond 27), then this slokam is recognized as a Dhandakam. The 3 lettered unit is known as a Gana. Thus a 27 lettered Paada will have 9 Ganas.There is generally no restriction on the length of the Paada in a Dhandakam.Swami Desikan chose Paadas with 36 Ganas or 108 =(32X4 )letters for the four Paadas of Garuda Dhandakam.
The poetic genius of
Swami Desikan is abundantly evident in this Composition. The Paadas of
this Dhandakam parsed by its 144 Ganas make intricate swoops in the air
and make sharp turns like the high soaring Pakshi Raja (Garuda). The
grammar of the flight movement of this Dhandakam is defined by Naganas and
Raganas. At the beginning of each Paada, the first two Ganas are made up
of Naganas and the remaining 34 are made up of Raganas. Naganas are those
Ganas ot triads of Aksharas/Syllables,which are laghu in character;
Raganas are those, where the middle Akshara is Laghu and the remaining two
are Guru. The genius of Swami Desikan as a poet is revealed from the study
of this Dhandakam, where he scrupulously adheres to the rules of the
Dhandakam construction, including the nuances of meter and Ganas
THE FIRST SLOKA (Nama:
Pannaganaddhaya) IS SET IN THE VEDIC METER KNOWN AS ANUSHTUB WITH 32
SYLLABLES.THE LAST SLOKA (VICHITRA SIDDHA:) IS ALSO SET IN THE SAME
METER.THE SLOKA PRIOR TO THE LAST ONE IS SET IN AARYA VRITTHAM.THE
REMAINIG SLOKA FORMS THE BODY OF THE DHANDAKAM WITH ITS FOUR PAADAS AND
EACH OF THE PAADAS CONTAINING 36 GANAS.
SRI GARUDA DHANDAKAM
Srimathe Nigamantha Maha
Sriman Venkatanaatharya: kavithaarkika Kesaree I
Vedanthaacharya Varyome Sannidhattaam sadha Hrudhi II
vaikunta vasavardhineh I
Srutisindhu Sudhotpaadamandaraaya Garutmathe II
My salutations to Garuda with the beautiful wings.His limbs are adorned by the mighty serpents that he has conquered in battle. They are his jewellery. He does all the intimate kainkaryas to his Lord and is His Antharanga Daasa. Garuda is devoted always to the Lord and His services. He is adept like the Mandara Mountain in churning the milky ocean of Vedas and to bring out the Brahma Vidyas. We can get the benefits of these Brahma Vidyas by offering our worship to him. My salutations are to him.
Dhandakam: Paada 1
Needhadhirootam Dwishad Peetanothkantithaakunta
vaikuntapeetikrta skandhameedhe Svaneedhaa gatipreetha Rudraa Sukeerthi
sthanaabhogakatopakuta sphuratkantakavraata veda vyataavepamaana
dwijihavaadhikalpa vishpaaryamaana spataavatikaa ratna rochischataa raajineerajitham kaanti kallolinee raajitam I
Garuda Bhagavan has designed the Vedas as his cage and uses that cage as his seat. (This suggests that the Vedas sing his praise). His Lord Sriman Narayana is bent upon destroying the Enemies of His devotees.No one can stop Sriman Narayana in these endeavours. When He sets about to destroy the enemies of His devotees, he uses the shoulders of Garuda as his transport. When Garuda transports his Lord on His missions, his wives-Rudrai and Sukeerthi-- miss his absence from home. When the Lord"s mission is successfully concluded, Garuda returns to his wives and they embrace him intimately with affection. In that ecstatic state, the hairs on the body of Garuda become stiff like thorns.This in turn hurts the serpents, which are covering his body.The serpents are overcome with fear and they raise their hoods. On those occasions, the ratnas positioned on their hoods radiate their brilliant red rays. That splendorous group of red rays appear at that time as the mangala Aaratthi to Garuda and he sparkles in that flood of red light.
Dhandakam: Paada 2
Jaya Garuda Suparna
Darveekaraahaara Devaadhipaahaarahaarin diwowkaspati
Kshipta Dambholi Dhaaraa kinaakalpa Kalpaantha Vatoola Kalpodhayaanalpa
Veerayithoodhyacchamatkaara Daityaari Jaitra Dhwajaarohanirdhaaritotkarsha
Sankarshanaatman Garutmun Marutpanchakaadheesa Satyaatimurthe na Kascchit samas te namaste punaste nama: II
O Garuda Bhagavan! You have been named Suparna, because of the beauty of your wings. Serpents of immense size serve as your food. You brought Nectar . the food of the Devas- from Indra Loka to release your mother from the bonds of servitude. Indra got angry at you during that time and threw his Vajra weapon at you . The sharp edge of that powerful weapon caused wounds on your wings and rest of the body. The welts from those wounds look today as pieces of jewellery on your body and attest to your heroic deed in defeating Indra. Your other heroic deeds stand out like the mighty winds that sweep the universe during the time of the great deluge. You are sitting on the flag of your Lord, which denotes His victory over His enemies and from your position on the flag of your Lord , we are able to infer your glories. You have incarnated as Sankarshana among the four Vyuha Murthys of Sriman Narayana, which are Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradhumna and, Aniruddha. You have divided yourself into five forms-- Satyar, Suparnar, Garudar, Taarkshyar and Vihageswarar-- and matched those five forms with the five Vayus (Praanan, Apaanan, Samaanan,Udaanan and Vyaanan) and shine thereafter as a supreme Devan. O Lord with the most exquisitely beautiful golden Wings! There is none, who is equal to you. I offer my salutations to you first and then again repeat my salutations.
Dhandakam Paada 3
Nama Idha Mahajat
Saparyaaya Paryaaya Niryaata Pakshaanilaasppalanodhvela
chapetaahataagaadha paatala Bhankara sankrutta nagendra peetasrunee bhava
bhasvannakasrenayae chandatundaya nrtyat bhujanga bhruve vajrine dhamshtrayaa
tubyam Adhyaatmavidyaa vidheyaa vidheyaa bhavat dhasyamaapaadhayeta
dhayataasccha meh I
O Garuda Bhagavan! Learned scholars offer their uninterrupted worships to you. Your wings in flight generate mighty winds that stir up all the oceans and make them flow over their boundaries. The waves that rise and fall from those powerful winds reach down to the netherworld (Paatalam) and the effect is like a violent blow given by the palm of one"s hand. A frightening sound heard as "Bhaam. reverberate around the world at that time. The mighty elephants guarding the quarters are shaken up by this mighty sound of "Bhaam" and run to attack you, the generator of that sound. Your rows of sharp nails acting as the elephant goad attack those angry elephants of the quarters and repulse them. Your mighty beak raises terror in the minds of your enemies. When you squint your brows, it looks like the movement of the hood of a Cobra. Your canine teeth look like the Vajra weapon of Indra and strikes terror in the hearts of your enemies. My salutations to you of such limitless glory! May thou bless me so that Brahma Vidyas become easy to be possessed by me! Please bless me out of your infinite compassion so that I can have the good fortune to offer kainkaryam to you.
Dhandakam Paada 4
sekharastthrayathaam nastrivargaapavarga prasuthi: paravyoma dhaman
valadweshidharpjjvalat vaalakilya Pratigynaavatheerna sthiraam tatvabuddhim paraam bhaktidhenum jaganmoolakandhe Mukundhe
mahaanandadhogdhreem dhatitaa mudaakaamaheenamaheenaanthaka II
O Garuda Bhagavan residing permanently in Sri Vaikuntam! Your mantram confers to the reciters the four fold (Dharma-Artha-Kama -Moksha) goals of Life. That mantram of yours made up of 5 syllables, has the Pranavam as its first syllable. At the end, it carries the syllable associated with the wife of Agni.May the mantram of that structure protect us! Once, Devendran became arrogant over his powers and insulted the Sages with the name of Valakilyas. (The sages got angry and cursed Indra.They cursed that Indra"s arrogance be destroyed by an incarnation of Sankarshana (Garuda) at a future date). You were born from the vow made by the Valakilyas that the mighty arrogance of Indra be destroyed by you and you made their words become true. You serve as the lord of Death for mighty serpents that challenged you. Please bless me with the discriminating knowledge to distinguish between true (superior) and false (inferior) knowledge. Your Lord is the fundamental and principal cause of all the universes. Please bless me to have the cow representing the limitless devotion to your Lord , so that It can yield for me its delectable milk . May that devotion of mine be free from the distractions of the insignificant and evanescent pleasures of life! May thou confer on me the boon of possessing such a superior devotion to your Lord and True Knowledge about Him!
Sloka in Aarya meter
outlining the structure of Garuda Dhandakam
Nara paripaati naveena Ghumbhagana: I
Vishnurathadhandakoyam Vikatayathu vipaksha Vahini Vyuham II
This entire Garuda Dhandakam is of the form of one slokam. This has four Paadas. Each of the Paadas have 36 Ganas. Each Gana has three syllables. This Dhandakam follows strictly the rules of composing Dhandakams and has the Naganas and Ragnas in each of the Paadas and yields novel word constructions. When one recites this Garuda Dhandakam, it will destroy the formations of the enemies, who have assemblled to do battle with us and scatter them to the winds.
Concluding Sloka in hte
Soyam Venkatesa Vipascchitaa I
Garudadhwajathoshaaya Ghito Garudadhandaka: II
This Garuda Dhandakam was composed and sung by me, the Vidwan known as Venkatesa to please the Lord, who has Garuda on his flagstaff. The recitation of this Garuda Dhandakam will confer on the reciter multifold blessings and fulfil their heartfelt wishes of every kind.